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Romney visits California on fundraising swing

September 22, 2012|By Seema Mehta
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraising event in Del Mar, Calif.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign fundraising… (Charles Dharapak / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO -- Mitt Romney may be a multimillionaire with homes on both coasts, but in the midst of a California money run Saturday, the GOP nominee was awestruck by the grandeur of the site of one of his fundraisers.

Speaking about a dinner held for him in the Bay Area the previous night, Romney noted on Saturday that the driveway to the estate appeared at least a mile long.

“It’s like, Oh my goodness, how in the world? And then we came to the home, and it was like San Simeon, you know, the Hearst Castle,” Romney told donors at a different fundraiser on Saturday. “It was this beautiful home with gardens, manicured gardens, and a pool and a topiary and so forth.”

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He used the home, owned by Ada Regan, to illustrate a theme of his campaign. Romney said he assumed the estate -- a 13,820-square foot manse with nine bedrooms and 9.5 bathrooms -- had been in  her family for some time, but Regan replied that she and her husband immigrated to the United States from Canada and started a business with $100. Her husband ended  up starting the company that built the heat shield for the lunar landing module.

“That’s what he did, without a high school degree, immigrant comes to this country, builds an enterprise that employs him and provides for his family and employs many other people. I’m astonished at the American experience, at how powerful the American dream has been in the lives of people across this country, and, how in fact, they did build their business with the help of others,” Romney said. “That is the nature of America."

The line was a reference to Romney’s earlier criticism of President Obama for saying that business owners didn’t build their firms alone but with the help of government in the form of roads, schools and other services. In the case of the Regan firm, of course, the company benefited either directly or indirectly from a government contract.

Romney made the remarks during a Saturday luncheon at the Grand Del Mar, where 650 people paid up to $25,000 each to attend. The function Friday night at  Regan’s Strawberry Hill estate in Hillsborough cost up to $100,000 per couple. On Saturday night, Romney will address about 1,500 people who paid up to $50,000 each to attend a fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Dennis Miller, Gary Sinise and David Foster are among the notable attendees expected.

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Presidential candidates of either party rarely campaign in California toward the end of the election season, given the state’s Democratic tilt. But it is a popular stop on the fundraising circuit, with its residents donating the most of any state to the 2012 presidential campaign. Romney has raised $19.3 million,  while Obama has raised $39.4 million. The president will return to the state in October for at least two fundraisers.

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seema.mehta@latimes.com

Twitter: @latseema

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